If you are a hunter (or fisherman), you necessarily need your personal knife: ideally multifunction and certainly with a grip and an impeccable edge, this one must be chosen with care.
However, there are (very/too) many models of knives on the market: you must therefore make sure to make the best choice according to the intended use.
As always, there is no absolute “best knife”, but “the best knife for you and your needs”.
In this article, I tell you what a hunting knife is and how to choose it.
What is a hunting knife used for?
Originally invented and used by hunters, hunting knives are used to perform various tasks.
There is thus a wide range of hunting knives and each model available meets a specific need.
Simply put, you can use it to:
- to cut,
- to debone,
- … in order to finally learn how to cook them.
In theory, a hunting knife can also allow you to build animal traps: cut pieces of rope and carve pieces of wood, with the aim of assembling traps.
Also, it is common that bushcrafters to choose their favourite blade in the hunting section, because these knives are often practical and versatile enough for all their needs.
Because yes, if you can find a single knife to perform all these operations, it is still important to understand that each blade model also corresponds to a particular use.
So you can just as well get a suitable knife for every task.
And for knife lovers, you will have a very nice collection…
What are the different types of hunting knives?
Before choosing YOUR hunting knife, it is essential that you have an idea of the options available to you.
The Bowie hunting knife
The Bowie knife, probably one of the best-known hunting knives, is the creation of American Colonel James Bowie, from whom it takes its name.
It is also called the “Arkansas toothpick”, although its visual does not really suggest a toothpick… to say the least! We are more on the side of Rambo or Crocodile Dundee…
This hunting knife is distinguished by a large blade (from 15cm to 35cm) of the “clip point” type and a very solid handle mounted on a flat sole.
The scales of the handle are often made of wood, horn, ivory, or antler.
This is the knife to use for butchering an animal. It is also used for slicing meat.
It has a reputation as a robust knife… even indestructible.
The skinning knife
Also called Skinner, the skinning knife is used to cut the skin of an animal without damaging it.
This is a very meticulous task that requires the use of a short, thin blade. That the skinning knife meets these criteria perfectly.
Most models sold have a rising tip. It is ideal if you want to keep the skins.
In addition, there is also the special trophy skinning knife.
This accessory is used for skinning the head and shoulders of the animal in order to make a hunting trophy. Think about, if you plan to keep traces of your exploits…
The boning knife
This model of hunting knife is specially designed to facilitate the separation of meat from the game bone.
It is characterized by a thicker blade than that ordinary knives. It is rigid and short and allows you to do not damage the bones.
Handy if you want to keep them, to create tools, decorations, knife pads, etc.
The carving knife and the hunting dagger
The carving knife is similar to the butcher knife. It is used when cutting meat.
This form of hunting knife is generally characterized by a stiff handle, good thickness and large size.
As for the hunting dagger, it is known by different names (drop point, dagger).
It is distinguished by its thin and long blade which makes it possible to pierce the heart of the animal, without damaging the viscera or the skin.
It is one of the types of hunting knives most appreciated by hunters.
There are also versatile hunting knives that can be used for multiple occasions.
They are recommended for beginners and anyone who prefers “one knife for all tasks” rather than “knives for every task”.
What criteria for choosing your knife?
In addition to the usefulness of the knife and its model, certain precise criteria allow you to select a suitable weapon.
Here are the points to consider:
The use of the hunting knife
Before studying the models of hunting knives, I advise you to think about the use you want to make of them.
As I explained previously, each type of knife is (mostly or exclusively) intended for a specific need.
However, if having several knives seems a constraint to you, it is better to opt for a versatile model.
The type of knife blade
Once you have selected your model, pay attention to other criteria, starting with the type of blade.
You have two choices for this:
- fixed blade knife
- folding blade knife
Larger than a folding blade, the fixed blade is usually intended for specific use.
The fixed blade knife is carried in a case, unlike the folding blade hunting knife that you simply keep in your pocket.
The material of the blade
Knife blades are made of different materials.
If you are not a specialist, I advise you to opt for either a blade designed in Damascus, carbon steel or stainless steel.
Carbon steel is known for its strength, but also for its sharpness. It is also easy to sharpen. However, carbon steel oxidizes easily.
This is not the case with stainless steel which also has the advantage of resisting corrosion.
The material of the handle
Hunting knife handles are made of different materials, each of which has its own advantages and disadvantages:
- aluminium: light, durable, does not fear corrosion, generally very popular.
- in bone/deer antler/ivory: aesthetic, natural, easy to maintain, the possibility of customization.
- in wood: the properties depend on the type of wood chosen.
- in carbon fibre: light and resistant.
You can also opt for other materials, such as copper, titanium (ultra light), brass, ABS, zamac, G10, etc.
Where can I find a good quality hunting knife?
You can go to a specialized shop run by a master cutler. You will have the opportunity to discover different models, with expert advice.
To access more offers, I recommend that you turn to the web and visit specialized sites. You will generally have more choice and “neutral” information (by going to see the retex of other sites).
How to clean and store your hunting knife?
The cleaning and maintenance of hunting knives are essential.
To prevent the blade from wearing out or the handle being damaged quickly, it is essential to clean the knife after each use.
To do this, you must use a soft cotton cloth, suitable for a steel blade. Simply wet the fabric, then give the knife blade a good scrubbing before rinsing it.
Avoid letting your accessory soak in water for too long. This will damage the handle.
As for the maintenance of the handle, it depends on the material. But often, a few drops of white vinegar can clean it.
However, in some cases, a simple cleaning with water may be sufficient. When finished, allow drying completely before storing each knife in its case or folding them up.
Carry them in the inside or outside pockets of your backpack for better support.
Pay attention to folding knives in your pockets, they can suffer shocks and wear out more quickly.